Veterans Day on Sunday, Nov. 11 -- and observed as a national holiday on Monday -- has special significance for retired Army Maj. Doug Miller, as it should.
Miller, the Pleasanton Weekly's Man of the Year in 2016, was just named a Tri-Valley Hero, receiving the program's 2018 Role Model award for his service to the country and his community at a ceremony last month.
Miller has focused much of his life on serving the country, first as an Army helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, then as an officer in the Army Reserves and ever since working with veterans' organizations.
He recently stepped down as president of the local chapter of the Association of the United States Army, an organization that aims to make life better for active duty military members and their families at Camp Parks in Dublin and the East Bay.
He's a lifetime member of the Vietnam Veterans of Diablo Valley, the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, Pleasanton Post 237 of the American Legion and Pleasanton Post 6298 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, where he has served as president.
"All of these activities and experiences are the miracles of life and the benefit of having been born in this great country," Miller said. "I am very grateful."
Miller is perhaps best known locally for his leadership efforts in planning and completing the Veterans Memorial that was dedicated two years ago at the top of the hill in Pleasanton's Pioneer Cemetery. He represented the veteran community in persuading the City Council to endorse the memorial plan and pay some of the costs.
He then worked with members of veterans and community organizations to raise the $320,000 needed for the memorial itself. The city assumed demolition costs for the old flag circle and the construction of new roads and an irrigation system.
Miller has said that the purpose of the memorial is answered by the words embedded in front of the flags flying at its center: "Here We Mark the Price of Freedom."
Although Miller and veteran organizations are continuing to work on making more improvements at the cemetery, where more than 500 military veterans are buried, much of the planning efforts for additional development are now in the hands of Pleasanton city staff.
These include a kiosk where visitors will be able to obtain information about the cemetery, which was developed in the 1800s and includes soldiers' graves dating back to the Civil War. Miller said an audio tour also is planned, allowing those with smartphones to hear about the memorial, how it was built and what it represents.
Miller holds a bachelor's degree in economics and a U.S. Army commission from Norwich University, the military college of Vermont located in Northfield. It is the oldest private military college in the U.S.
Later, he earned a Master of Science in systems management from the University of Southern California.
He served two tours in Vietnam as an Army helicopter pilot during his 10 years on active duty. When he stepped down from active duty in April 1977, he joined the Army Reserves, where he served with the rank of major for another 10 years while also embarking on a civilian career that spanned the next 27 years.
During that time, he held senior positions in sales and marketing, working primarily at Hitachi in Boston and the Bay Area and Sun Microsystems in Menlo Park before retiring in 2004.
Transferred here from Boston by Hitachi in 1991, Miller and his wife Janice moved to the Del Prado neighborhood, where they still live. Their three children -- Ashley, Jared and Reagan -- attended Donlon Elementary, Pleasanton Middle and Foothill High schools. Like their dad, they all have military and public service in their blood.
Ashley, the oldest, served for two years with Teach for America as a ninth-grade high school teacher at an inner-city high school in Miami. Since 2006, she has worked for Symantec in the San Jose area.
Jared, like his dad, served as an Army captain and helicopter pilot, completing two one-year tours in Afghanistan. He now works in Washington, D.C.
Their younger daughter Reagan works for the U.S. State Department in the Bay Area. She spent one year with that department in harm's way in Iraq during the surge of heavy combat.
Even though he has retired, Miller's passion for everything military stays on. The Army asked him in 2008 to handle its local Wounded Warrior program. He did that for the next three years, making sure that the most severely wounded soldiers in this region received good care as they underwent rehabilitation.
"I took that job and found it to be the most amazing experience I'd ever had," Miller said. "It's hard to imagine unless you have spent a lot of time with people in the condition these military men and women were how they were determined to come through their traumas."
In addition, Miller served as an Alameda County Veterans Affairs Commission member, was a director of East Bay Stand Down, a program that supports needy local veterans and also helped establish a local Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation team in Pleasanton to support severely wounded soldiers.
* After serving two tours in Vietnam as an Army helicopter pilot during 10 years on active duty, Miller served another 10 years in the Army Reserves.
* Even though he retired, his compassion for everything military had him accept Army's offer to handle its local Wounded Warrior program.
* Miller led effort to fund and build the Veterans Memorial that was dedicated two years ago at Pleasanton's Pioneer Cemetery.
* He continues to serve on organizations focused on making life better for active duty military members, veterans and their families.
* Miller was honored with the Pleasanton Mayor's Award last year from Mayor Jerry Thorne.